All students earn a Master of Arts (MA) in Cultural Heritage Management. The MA requires ten courses, three required, three core courses, and four electives, to be completed within five years of beginning the program.

We emphasize the transdisciplinarity of the field, and as a result, the curriculum allows each student to customize his or her studies to their unique career goals and trajectory.  In addition to the 3 required courses, students choose 3 out of 5 potential core courses and 4 electives.

Our close relationship with the Museum Studies and Digital Curation programs, greatly expands the choice of course electives. Students work with an advisor to design a course of study that best suits their needs and interests.

Students must take a total of 10 courses:

  • Studies in World Heritage
  • Cultural Heritage Management/Leadership
  • Three core courses
  • Four elective courses
  • One two-week onsite seminar
    • Note: In order to register for the onsite seminar, students must have completed a minimum of two courses in the program, although four or more courses are encouraged. One of these courses must be 465.704, students are also strongly encouraged to take 465.707, and some seminars may have other specific requirements. Students are responsible for travel to and from the location, accommodations, and meals, as well as any specified field trip fees.
    • Waiver Option: Students who are unable to travel to seminar locations, due to accommodation needs, financial hardship, or family challenges, may apply to the program director for an exemption to the two-week seminar. If a waiver is granted, the student must enroll in the internship option (465.780) to fulfill the onsite component of the degree requirement.
  • Optional Internship (An internship or project at a student’s local heritage institution, approved by the Internship Coordinator, may be substituted for one elective course)

Required Courses

This course offers an in-depth exploration of World Heritage by focusing on the concept of heritage, both tangible and intangible, its historical development, its international conventions, and the role of society and history in its past, present, and future. Students will be asked to engage critically with contemporary heritage concepts such as authenticity, ownership, assessment, value, and preservation that form much of our global understanding of the field of cultural heritage studies. Through case studies, lectures, discussions, and readings, students will explore international heritage policy as structured by the institutional complex, and consider both its local and global impact.

Cultural heritage management is a complex intersection of theory and practice. This course will explore issues related to cultural sector management and leadership. Through the lens of current practice, we will examine core theoretical concepts and tools, including traditional approaches as well as the incorporation of emergent technology. We will look closely at the roles of the cultural manager and the proficiencies and characteristics needed for effective management and leadership within the cultural sector. We will consider changing definitions of protection and stewardship as they relate to cultural heritage as well as a larger framing of public interest, what publics, which interests.

A two-week intensive period of on-ground heritage management study in a location organized by the MA in Cultural Heritage Management program. The seminar includes practicum opportunities related to site management, heritage tourism, and conservation, alongside classroom sessions that integrate daily experiences. Using the rich diversity of the designated location, the seminar provides students with the chance to use what they have learned in their prior courses, develop networks with fellow students and heritage experts, and explore the latest in cultural heritage practice. Students work on directed activities during the two-week period, coupled with multiple site visits focused on the academic work being accomplished. In order to register for this course, students must have completed a minimum of two courses in the program, although four or more courses are recommended. Students are strongly encouraged to take 465.702, 465.704 and 465.707. Some seminars may have other specific requirements. Individual course descriptions will be posted for each location. An individual course description will be posted for each location. Waiver option: Students who are unable to travel to a seminar location due to accommodation needs, financial hardship, or family challenges may apply to the program director for an exemption to the two-week seminar. If a waiver is granted, the student must enroll in the internship option (465.780) to fulfill the on-site component of the degree requirement.

Core Courses

Select at least three of five. Once core course requirements are satisfied any additional core courses may count toward elective course requirements.

This course examines the unique challenges faced by academics and practitioners in defining, preserving and managing rural, natural, and urban heritage at a landscape scale. The multiplicity of interests involved add to the complexity and require robust engagement strategies. Students will use a regional, national and international perspective to derive best practices for understanding the breadth of the cultural landscape concept and the opportunities for its sustainable development. Students are strongly encouraged to take this course before enrolling in the Two-Week Onsite Cultural Heritage Management Seminar (465.708).

This course introduces students to cultural heritage law, as it relates to the interpretation, ownership, management, and protection of both tangible and intangible heritage. Using case studies taken from the court dockets and newspaper headlines, students will develop a solid background in relevant national and international legal concepts, while exploring how the law is implemented through policy and practice. They will also examine the impact of heritage’s continuing politicization, including the use (and misuse) of heritage in public commemoration, nation building, armed conflict, and violent extremism. To this end, from a global perspective, and through a legal and policy lens, the course takes an in depth look at key challenges and controversies affecting the field. It considers what can and cannot—and, for that matter, what should and should not—be done to protect heritage, and how these decisions affect politics, economics, and security from the local to the international levels.

Interpretation is a key component of cultural heritage management and the visible link between heritage and its diverse publics. This course considers current practice and emerging developments in the field as well as a broad range of heritage both tangible and intangible: from museums and sites, to archeological excavations, to urban and rural landscapes, and both the natural and built environment. It asks students to evaluate the role of interpretation in site management and looks critically at interpretation across global landscapes considering both the intended and unintended consequences of chosen narratives. This course looks closely at audience and community, the control of narrative and interpretation, and the short and long-term impact in terms of identity and access. As well as discusses the skills identified across the sector for heritage interpreters and how they are used to create effective experiences.

Museums and other heritage institutions are increasingly recognizing the value of "bottom-up" heritage programming. This class will explore issues related to community engagement in the heritage sector as well as strategize ways to engage various constituencies in the formulation, collection, and presentation of their heritage. We will use global case studies (as related to memory and memorial, sites of conscience, marginalized histories, indigenous heritage, and eco-museums) to explore the challenges faced by such projects. Examining both the failures and successes will result in a broader understanding of best practices in the field and help us formulate effective strategies for future engagement.

A Neolithic settlement in Scotland, at risk due to coastal erosion, is digitally preserved through precise 3D laser scanning; the construction of the massive towers at Cologne Cathedral is brought to life with digital photogrammetry and augmented reality; multilayered cultural heritage information, images, and damage assessments are catalogued in open source databases. These are just a few examples of how a growing number of scholars, researchers, and practitioners are using the latest technology as a means to document, visualize, interpret, and preserve cultural heritage worldwide.

This course will explore the ways in which cultural heritage professionals are implementing the latest digital technologies to enhance research, conservation, management and preservation of tangible and intangible heritage, as well as methods of education and engagement for visitors. Through lectures, readings, assignments, and social media, students will identify, analyze and debate the use of documentation, visualization and content creation technology currently being used in the cultural heritage engagement, studies and practice, as well as envision its use for the future.


Select four. Students may take up to two related courses in other Johns Hopkins University departments subject to the approval of the Program Director.

The supervised research course enables students to investigate a significant problem or issue in cultural heritage and to develop and demonstrate leadership, critical thinking, and communication skills. The research project is expected to result in a written deliverable that makes a contribution to the field of cultural heritage broadly defined. Coursework, assignments, and meetings with a faculty member will take place in an online course environment. This course is normally completed toward the end of the degree program.

Potential students for this course must complete the Turning Your Topic Into A Good Research Question Research Skills Module and submit a Research Proposal/ question form prior to registering. On this form, students will describe their topic and research question. Please reach out to your academic advisor in order to complete this step. The course instructor will review the proposals and determine project appropriateness and enrollment eligibility. Students will register for this course through the add/drop form.

This course is recommended for students seeking to satisfy 36 CFR 61 federal qualification standards. These are standards used by the National Park Service previously published in the Code of Federal Regulations. The jobs of History, Archaeology and Architectural History include the following minimal professional qualifications (respectively):

  • Substantial contribution through research and publication to the body of scholarly knowledge in the field of history.
  • Demonstrated ability to carry research to completion.
  • Substantial contribution through research and publication to the body of scholarly knowledge in the field of American architectural history.

This course is a detailed introduction to the recognition, description, evaluation, and management of cultural heritage resources. The focus is on professional practice in the United States (US), but many of the basic activities, policies, and laws have parallels in other countries. Mainly this course is about tangible heritage resources, such as archaeological sites, historic structures, museum collections and archives, traditional cultural properties, and cultural and historical landscapes. However, some attention is given to intangible cultural heritage in assigned readings. Students with a particular interest in intangible heritage may focus on them in the course paper, in consultation with the course instructor.

Students will evaluate the different values that heritage resources have in general and for specific stakeholder communities. Class sessions cover the historical, legal, and regulatory background of heritage management; heritage resource management private and public organizations at local, tribal, state, and federal levels; professional practice in various kinds of heritage resource management organizations; the values that heritage resources may hold; methods for assessing the condition of heritage resources; how conservation, development, stabilization, rehabilitation, restoration, and protection treatments are applied; how modern technology is used in managing heritage resources; the challenges for the long-term, sustainability of heritage resources management; the ways in which heritage resources are interpreted for public audiences; professional ethical guidelines in heritage management; and, likely developments impacting the management of heritage resources in the future.

In the course, students will develop a major individual written project that also can serve as a professional tool for each participant to use in advancing his or her career objectives.

The role of cultural heritage in global developmental policy emphasizes a human centered and inclusive approach. The course will introduce students to the current global discourse on sustainable economic development and unpack the role of cultural heritage including the socio-economic impacts of investment. Students will consider the role of cultural heritage in long term development strategies and policy in order to assess impacts and effects. Cultural heritage will be considered as both a means and an end.

Thanks to the efforts of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) over several decades, the global heritage enterprise has been expanded to include ‘intangible cultural heritage,’ the often ephemeral and ever-changing cultural beliefs, practices, and expressions that are embodied and shared by communities, groups, and individuals all over the world. The course, Issues in Intangible Cultural Heritage, explores this relatively new category of heritage, tracing the development of the ICH concept and related policy through pre-cursor concepts, concerns, and activities at the global level, from the 1970s through to today. Grounded in a critical engagement with the heritage and museum studies literature, particularly the thriving international ICH discourse and debates, and through critical analysis of case studies from across the globe, students will explore the challenges that arise with respect to safeguarding and promoting living cultural beliefs, practices, and expressions, as well as engage with key features of conducting community-based ICH work of their own.

This course explores the practice and theory of heritage tourism and the history of its developments and impacts. Through the lens of sustainable economic development, it will examine the benefits and challenges of tourism and site management in both rural and urban contexts. We will look closely at the relationship between culture, heritage, and tourism by examining a range of topics including the use of natural and cultural heritage resources for tourism development, understanding tourism development and tourist motivations, impacts of heritage tourism, international examples of heritage tourism and the importance of sustainability.

In the United States, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) outlines a process by which government agencies (and those who receive government funding) must return human remains and sacred objects to those who claim them. Repatriation is a complicated process because it means something different in almost every case. One of its earliest claims took 20-years to resolve. In 2017, the Ancient One was returned to the tribes of the Columbia River for reburial after DNA tests proved the relationship that tribes had claimed all along. But now reproductions of the Ancient One’s skull are being sold by a company that holds the copyright. When those from outside the culture to which he was returned can examine and/or profit from a replica, the distinction between compliance with the law and the ethics of return is clear. Outside of the United States, few repatriation laws exist and many argue that institutions like The British Museum are the best places to protect world heritage. Is providing care of and access to human remains and cultural objects preferable over returning heritage to those from which it was taken? In this course, we examine repatriation claims around the globe in order to critique NAGPRA and establish a compliance toolkit. Where NAGPRA doesn’t apply, heritage professionals can use the successes and failures of past repatriations, and a firm grounding in ethics, to make repatriation decisions. Nothing in NAGPRA prohibits practitioners from exceeding its scope and seeking out opportunities to build relationships with descendent communities even when repatriation is not required by law.

An internship at a cultural heritage organization, approved by the internship coordinator, may be substituted for one elective course. To fulfill the internship requirement, a student must complete a minimum of 80 hours of work on-site and a project, (either a research paper or a practical product) on an approved topic related to his/her experience, due at the end of the semester. Students also participate in online discussion and course work during the semester. Before registering for the internship option, the student should contact the internship coordinator for approval. At least four to six weeks before the beginning of the semester in which the internship will take place, the student must submit: 1) a description of the internship weekly duties including activities and/or responsibilities; 2) learning objectives and goals; 3) why this experience should be part of the Cultural Heritage Management degree; and 4) a signed letter of commitment from the internship supervisor. Students must have completed a minimum of two courses in the program before registering for this internship.

Eligible Elective Courses from the Museum Studies Program

From cabinets of curiosities to historical monuments and sites of memory, this course surveys museum history from a global perspective to examine how the museum’s function has changed over time. Students create a comprehensive timeline of museum history and philosophy—thinking through and visualizing the way certain concepts and events are related in time and across space. Through case studies and course readings in museum history, theory and methods, students will contextualize the philosophical trends that have impacted organizational structures, outreach, collection strategies, and the museum’s role and relationship to its public.

This course explores audience research and evaluation theory, methodologies, and practical implementation in museums and similar environments. The class explores the three main stages of research and evaluation - front end, formative and summative - and what can be achieved at each stage, with a focus on exhibition and program evaluation. Each semester a museum client presents a real project; in small groups students develop clear research questions, an evaluation plan, an interview tool and an observation tool, all in conjunction with the client. A final presentation ensures the client’s evaluation needs are met and workable tools have been created. Students also spend time developing individual projects for their own museums, or museums in their communities. Emphasis is given on evaluating the holistic visitor experience, examining what is working and what is not - educationally, physically, and socially. This course is useful to all museum professionals, in any role within a museum, whether you plan to conduct, oversee, or in any way participate in audience research and evaluation.

This course serves as an introduction to museum architecture, including the history of museum buildings, as well as current case studies of renovations, expansions and new facilities. We will discuss the relevant topics in creating a physical museum space, such as developing a museum program, planning the visitor experience, developing wayfinding systems, building a green museum, and incorporating technology in the initial plan. We will analyze museum buildings from multiple perspectives, including visitors, staff and collections. Students will learn how to evaluate an existing museum building and will be guided through a mini-POE (post-occupancy evaluation) of a museum in their community.

Conservation-Restoration has existed for hundreds of years, and conservators have been active in museums and the heritage industry since their inception. This course will explore the history of conservation-restoration, how it has changed over time, where it is today and where it might be going tomorrow. Students will become fluent in conservation-restoration research methods and publishing sources, able to identify good sources for information, and to understand the ethical issues in the field. The Getty Art and Archaeological Technical Abstracts (AATA) Online have partnered with this course to provide material for students to review, abstract, and publish on their online bibliographical database. The final project will be the culmination of a semester’s worth of research and writing about a conservation-restoration or collections topic and presented as an encyclopedic article in On completion of this course students will be able to call themselves a Wikipedian and a Getty AATA abstractor and they will have a working knowledge of the field of conservation-restoration as it applies to museums and the heritage industry. Prerequisite: Collection Management (460.666).

This course will explore the main principles in caring for analog and digital photographic collections. It has been designed as a broad approach to the subject, but with enough depth to give the student an approach to the care for photographic collections with both historical and natively born digital photographs. This course will provide this insight from looking at the materials that photographs are composed of, understanding the materials and environment that they are housed in, and the technologies and workflows needed to care for analog and natively born digital photographs for long-term preservation. Students will be required to build and present a case study and a final project discussing a topic related to the course.

This course provides an introduction to the theory and practice of archives, including an overview relating to the elements of an archival program and the role and work of archivists. Special attention will be paid to the work of archivists in a museum context. The theoretical component of the course will be supplemented with a variety of hands-on exercises, case studies, and informed anecdotes designed to illustrate the relationship between theory and practice. Although American archival tradition will be the focus, international perspectives on archival theory and practice will play an important role in the course of study. Topics include: acquisition; appraisal; arrangement and description; preservation; reference; outreach; archival access systems; legal and ethical issues; and born-digital curation, including digital preservation.

Museums exist to preserve and share their collections with the world. Collection managers, or registrars, are essential to any collecting institution, whether collections are art, history, science, or live specimens. This course focuses on management principles that can be applied broadly to any type of collection. The course covers all aspects of collections care from the acquisition of objects, evaluation, care and storage, through loans and exhibitions. Safe collections care and handling, using the most current methods, are emphasized so objects may be preserved for future generations. Any student who intends to work at a collecting institution will benefit from mastering the practical knowledge and skills underpinning many phases of museum work, which will be taught in this class.

This course introduces students to the current state of digital preservation, preservation challenges, and basic concepts for designing effective digital preservation plans and programs. Topics include the relevance of digital preservation for museums; archival principles that inform preservation practices; standards and policies; considerations in preservation strategies; issues relating to formats, repositories, and processes; and emerging preservation solutions and services. Note: Students are advised to take 460.666 Collection Management before enrolling in this course; consult with the Digital Curation Program Coordinator for approval of exceptions.

This course lays a foundation for managing digital information throughout its life cycle by introducing students to the emerging field of digital curation and by examining the practical issues and tools involved in managing digital collections and repositories over time. Topics include metadata schemas for describing digital assets in different disciplines; sharing digital content beyond the institution to reach wider audiences; requirements for trustworthy repository services; management of research data; policy issues; and user services. Note: Students are advised to take 460.666 Collection Management before enrolling in this course; consult with the Digital Curation Program Coordinator for approval of exceptions.

Every museum career offers opportunities for leadership. Whether you head an internal project, lead a team, department or an entire institution, you draw from the same attributes and skill sets as leaders everywhere. Understanding that skill set and developing individual leadership competence leads to a career hallmarked by intentionality.

This course introduces students to the nature and practice of leadership through the vocabulary of competencies. It focuses on personal leadership development, beginning with an assessment of a student’s leadership strengths and weaknesses while building awareness of challenges, best practices, and practical workplace applications. Through reading, discussion, interviewing current museum leaders, and reflective writing, students deepen their understanding of their personal leadership capacities, grasp the importance of self-awareness to leadership growth, and understand the range of competencies leaders must embrace to be successful in the rapidly evolving world of the 21st-century museum.

Prerequisite: Students must have completed ONE of the following courses to register for this course: Business of Museums (460.608); History and Philosophy (460.611); OR Museums and Community Engagement (460.615)

Project management is the oversight and process of planning, organizing, and coordinating multiple tasks, resources, and stakeholders. In museum settings it often requires a choreographed juggle of scheduling, budget tracking, content and education considerations, facility and operations issues, and human resources; along with an ability to be flexible and calmly tackle unexpected challenges. This course will present both theoretical and practical concepts for initiating, planning, executing, monitoring, and completing projects in a museum. Using real world scenarios and different types of projects, the course will, provide students with tools and strategies necessary for project scheduling, task supervision, and stakeholder management. Project management is a learned skill, useful not only to those who will ultimately oversee a project, but to everyone who may eventually be part of a project team.

Museums have the potential to provide safe spaces for comprehensive cultural inquiry. Culturally specific museums provide strategic platforms for showcasing diverse sets of art, history and culture with the intention of reaching a broad set of visitors. This course examines the significance of culturally specific museums, both individually and in relation to mainstream museums, to better understand how public culture engages issues of art, history, aesthetics, religion, ethnicity, and politics. Through the combination of contemporary reading material, survey of six national culturally specific museums, synchronous and a-synchronous discussion forums and guest speakers, students will discuss some of the ways in which culturally specific museums help make up the fabric of culture represented in museums in the United States of America.

Take a journey inspired by the peoples, ecosystems, and cultures of the Americas and explore how museums are responding to our shared hemispheric challenges of socioeconomic disparity, environmental degradation, and cultural heritage preservation, as well as achieving relevance in light of the recent pandemic and civil protest. Through video interviews and live guest sessions with museum leaders and experts throughout the Americas, including the Caribbean; mapping our journey and sharing what we learn; and multimedia assignments; we will focus on innovation, community and civic engagement, and sustainable practices.

Eligible Elective Courses from the Environmental Science & Policy (ESP) Program

Heritage students must secure permission from the ESP Program Director before enrolling in ESP courses.

Geographic information systems technology (GIS) is a powerful data visualization and analysis tool.This course is designed to introduce students to advanced concepts of geographic information science related to the fields of reserve planning, environmental science, natural resources, and ecology for the purpose of spatial analysis and geo-visualization of environmental issues. Topics may include conservation needs using remote sensing, digital image processing, data structures, database design, landscape ecology and metrics, wildlife home range and habitat analysis, suitability modelling, terrain and watershed analysis, and spatial data analysis. This course will only be offered online.

This course examines the relationship between organisms and their biotic and abiotic environment at three levels of biological hierarchy: individual organism, population, and community. Population characteristics, models of population dynamics, and the effect of ecological interactions on population regulation are discussed in detail. The structure and function of natural and man-made communities and the impact disturbances have on community structure are also examined. Students are led to appreciate the importance of ecology in solving environmental problems. Offered online or onsite, at least twice per year. Onsite version includes required field trips.

In this course students examine the meaning and implications of biodiversity with a focus on disciplines associated with conservation biology, wildlife conservation and wildlife management, including taxonomy, genetics, small population biology, chemical and restoration ecology, and marine biology. This includes exploring how conservation biology differs from other natural sciences in theory and in application. Students learn the major threats to biodiversity and what natural and social science methods and alternatives are used to mitigate, stop, or reverse these threats. The course also includes the economic and cultural tradeoffs associated with each conservation measure at the global, national, regional, and local levels. The course is taught in the seminar-style with field trips. Offered in person in Baltimore, Washington DC or off-site annually. Prerequisite: 420.611 Principles and Methods of Ecology, equivalent course, or experience.

Landscape ecology is a rapidly developing area of study that explicitly examines the effects of spatial pattern and scale on ecological processes that unfold over areas of several square kilometers or larger. Thus, landscape ecology provides many concepts, tools, and approaches that will enhance the effectiveness of endeavors such as watershed management, ecosystem management, design of conservation reserves and green infrastructure, and smart growth. The goal of this course is to give students a firm grasp of the concepts of landscape ecology and of how they can be applied to enhance the effectiveness of environmental policy, management, regulation, and assessment. Offered online at least every other year. Prerequisite: 420.611 Principles and Methods of Ecology, equivalent course, or experience.

This course prepares students to participate in the great debate over the use and protection of America 's federally owned forests, rangeland, parks, and sanctuaries. Students consider such questions as how much should be paid for grazing on federal lands; how to balance the demand for timber harvest with the need for watershed and wildlife management; who controls mineral and oil extraction on federal lands; and who has the rights to waters flowing through federal lands and stored behind federally funded dams. These and similar issues of today and tomorrow are studied in the context of history, statute and case law, and administrative regulations. Offered infrequently. Prerequisite: 420.614 Environmental Policymaking and Policy Analysis, equivalent course, or experience.


Students should be aware of state-specific information for online programs. For more information, please contact an admissions representative.

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